Inside the Capitol

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

9-14 Gary Johnson fights for ballot access

91412 Gary Johnson

SANTA FE – Who knew it ever would be so difficult for Gary Johnson to run for president as a third party candidate? New Mexico's former governor left the Republican Party many months ago to look for friendlier company in the Libertarian Party.
The Libertarians greeted him with open arms and chose him as their presidential candidate. One of the strengths of the Libertarian Party over other minor parties was that the party was on the ballot in all 50 states.
But it wasn't quite as advertised. All states make it difficult for minor parties to gain ballot access. About 10 states make it hard enough that Libertarians in those states hadn't gotten on the ballot yet when Johnson became the nominee.
So Johnson has spent considerable time in those states jumping through their hoops. The state GOP in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Oklahoma and Ohio is in court working to keep Johnson off the ballot.
Meanwhile supporters of Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who was shut out of being placed in nomination at the Republican National Convention, have split into two camps – one wanting to throw its support to Johnson and the other wanting to remain true to Paul even though he won't be on any ballot.
Check out the Internet and see that it has developed into quite a battle with some calling Johnson too extreme and others saying Paul should face reality and throw his support to Johnson.
Some on both sides call it a war. It hardly leaves Johnson time to campaign although he has picked up some ardent supporters from the group that has left Ron Paul.
Neither Democrats nor Republicans like third parties. Both do everything they can to keep other candidates off the ballot. Former President George H.W. Bush says Ross Perot kept him from a second term in 1992. Al Gore thinks Ralph Nader kept him from winning Florida in 2000.
Johnson says he is taking about equally from both sides. He says polling shows him taking a little more from Democrats in New Mexico and a little more from Republicans in Virginia.
Ron Paul managed to get delegate votes in Nevada, Minnesota, Maine, Iowa, Oregon, Alaska and the Virgin Islands. GOP convention rules require a petition signed by delegates from five states in order to be nominated from the floor. Rep. Paul's petition was signed by delegates from seven states so the rules were quickly changed to require eight states.
It was after that happened that many Paul supporters headed toward Johnson, who was in the vicinity of the convention auditorium speaking with reporters.
The experts are split on what sort of a chance Johnson has. Polling shows that nearly all Americans already have made up their mind on their presidential choice. President Barack Obama, Gov. Mitt Romney and Johnson are fighting over the sliver of voters that are left.
But Paul and Johnson supporters point to another survey revealing that only 16 percent of voters say they will be voting for someone they really like. They see the other 84 percent of voters still being in play if they can just get the message out.
Currently Johnson is working at raising $1 million on his website to make television commercials. That won't go far but Johnson isn't as flush as he was when he ran for governor.
Ron Paul does a magnificent job raising money through the Internet but he has a lengthy mailing list of names. He has been unwilling to share the list with anyone except probably his son, Sen. Rand Paul of Tennessee.
In late breaking news, Michigan has denied ballot access to Johnson because he originally ran for president as a Republican. Michigan has a "sore loser" law, which says a candidate cannot switch parties after losing a race for nomination.
But did Johnson actually lose the GOP nomination? The Michigan Libertarian Party will take that question to court for Johnson.


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